Friday, 9 March 2007

Separation of Powers

One of the issues raised in the debate over the reform of the House of Lords is the role of the Government in the Upper House. Britain has a system of 'ministerial accountability' - in which ministers are expected to be members of either House of Parliament, and are accountable to the House for their actions. Question Time is a key part of both Houses' days.

Should Britain consider a partial separation of powers. Some MPs argued that the reformed House of Lords should not include Ministers. Their concern is that the present system ensures a group of subservient peers, who are appointed to support the Government. There is a substantial "payroll vote" - members who are expected to vote for every Government measure - or they must resign (losing both power and salary). Perhaps it doesn't matter - as no party has a majority in the House of Lords - but would this survive in a wholly elected chamber.

Jack Straw wants a strong parliament - do we need to kick the executive out in the upper house to achieve this?

What's your view? What lessons can be learned from the US Congress? Does it achieve greater scrutiny despite not having members of the Executive as members?

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